Continuing our discussion of community, we must consider the impediments to building a more desirable future. How we associate with; connect to, and support one another is key to undergirding a more resilient tomorrow. In other words, we must create a better sense of connectedness.
- Biases. Call them what we will: racism, sexism, nationalism, ageism, snobbery, elitism, homophobia, tribalism, prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, chauvinism, or narrow-mindedness–our biases get in the way of collaborative community. To the degree we indulge one or more of these attitudes, we prevent ourselves from entering into deeper understandings of what it means to be human.
Whether we learned them from our parents, school, others, or simply our limited experience they serve no useful purpose. Most of us will not overcome all our intolerance, but building community demands that we keep it from warping our decision making.
- Values. For the most part, having solid values is a good thing. As long as I am operating in an arena with others who share similar visions things are fine.
The problem comes when we assume “everyone thinks as we do,” or try to convince others “our way is the only way.” That’s true whether we are talking about our nation, political party, economic theory or religion.
For example, I value education. I believe everyone should have opportunities to learn. But that doesn’t mean I approve of everything happening in schools (bullying, abuse of power, stifling creativity, waste of resources). Nor does it mean I believe there’s only way or time for people to learn.
But when I run into people who believe education is a waste of money, kids don’t need to learn to write or add, much less art, history, literature, science, or music–well, that poses a roadblock to my being in community with that particular person. It doesn’t make it impossible–just a barrier.
The same would be true if we were talking about a political position or deeply held point of faith. Shared values help solidify community.
Differing values cause us to work harder—to find those things that bind us together. All too often we decide not to do the work, but simply exclude that person from our tribe. But, when we behave that way—we miss an opportunity to expand our horizons—and settle for an incomplete vision of our future.
If we hope to move toward a future that has equality, dignity,
and respect for all–not just “the few,” then we must begin by strengthening our community building skills. Are there other significant barriers I have overlooked?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Next time we will look at Vigilance the second of the key principles, that need to guide us.